Essay on [ ]
by Erin Jin Mei O'Malley
I went hungry the way a dog I once owned
how else to elaborate. I had no food and a lean
shadow. the dog, like the hunger,
was mine, and I
never stopped missing him even after
I found him,
but life in America goes on
to show you: how to make a fist out of the number of months
your stomach was a pitted fruit.
if your poem uses the word “hunger,”
I’m not reading it
unless you know what it’s like to be used
to waking to nothing but the failed vanishing
your body—your body
absent except for the ache it belongs to.
I can tell you
want and want
so casually you’ve never closed your eyes in the rain and almost dissolved.
if desire collapses
the distance between the self and a lack,
if a plum without a stone is still a plum,
but a stone torn from
its fruit-flesh is nothing more
than a shard of rubble,
I must have been too scarce for desire.
years before this:
the dog, like the hunger, had been American. I discover that the heart of a plum is a stone
and strike the palm of a creek.
I was nothing, but before I was American, I was also nothing.
yes, even I was surprised
to learn of hunger
as the only abandonment
my body couldn’t stand
the stone’s grief at lying
at the dirt-bottom
of what was once a creek.
it was there
I discovered that emptiness
is a borderlessness.
Erin Jin Mei O’Malley is a queer Asian adoptee writer who is based in New York and Arizona. They have received nominations for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Best New Poets, and their work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Nashville Review, The Margins, The Shade Journal, and others. They are an MFA Candidate at Arizona State University. You can find them @ebxydreambxy on Twitter.